To offshore, or to not offshore

To help us keep pace with growing demand, I need to hire a bookkeeper with accounting skills. I’ve traditionally been in the camp of ‘keep jobs in Australia’, but have recently been considering adding an offshore team member to the crew. But this raises the ethical question: Is it OK to recruit offshore during these challenging times for job-seekers? (Recognising that they are just as challenging for employers.) I’d love to hear from anyone who has an opinion on this question - particularly anyone who has experience with offshore team members.

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Prior to the pandemic, I (like many employers) had always preferred in-house rather than remote employees. This may seem odd, as most of our work is done offsite from clients, so working remotely shouldn’t be a barrier. But I preferred the benefits of having my team working from the office: namely the ability to educate and support them, but also the intangible benefits like building greater team connection and growing a strong culture.

Now that most of us who can are working from home, this belief has been tested. I now see that remoteness needn’t be a barrier to connectedness. Yes, education and training may be more challenging when not next to each other, but I think that’s more a case of me needing to do a bit more prep work, such as ensuring there are rock-solid processes and procedures in place to guide the team. 

As a result, I’m now open to the idea of employing offshore team members. But this raises the ethical question: is it OK to go offshore during these times which are challenging for both job-seekers and employers?

I’ve always preferred to employ locally to support Aussie workers, but there are undeniable benefits to offshore employees. Yes, cost is the primary benefit – I would pay 3x as much for a local part-time employee who is less qualified, versus a full time offshore team member who is more highly qualified and experienced.

But there are now other factors at play. I’m debating whether I need an office space at all, or if the team can all work remotely. Technology plays a big part – it’s easier than ever to stay in close contact with remote employees. So with Victoria back in lockdown again and the recruitment, training and connectedness of a new staff member being the same if I hire here as offshore, besides the obvious $$ what are the real benefits/costs of choosing one option over the other? 

So I’m torn. What does my network think? I’d appreciate any comments from those who have experience (good and bad) with an offshore team member(s).

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